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The Role of Chinese Language-Heritage Schools in the Empowerment of Children & Youth of Immigrant Parents Ricardo D. Stanton-Salazar, Ph.D.

May 2009 .. Introductory Comments:

POINT: The United States developed over the last 3 hundred years as land of immigrantsalthough not everyone in the US traces their origins to immigration; The early development of the US also involved slavery, o the conquest of native peoples, o and a war that ended with the take-over of half of Mexico. [in any case] Today, we find people in the US from virtually every part of the world. .and the Chinese people began to contribute to the development of this young country since the early early 19th century. Chinese History: The first Chinese immigrants arrived in 1820 Chinese came to America in larger numbers during the 1848 California Gold Rush and in the 1860s when the Central Pacific Railroad recruited large labor gangs to build its portion of the Transcontinental Railroad. by 1880, there were 105,465 immigrants, most of whom lived on the West Coast. most of the early immigrants were young males with low educational levels from the Guangdong province Chinese were banned from emigrating between 1885 and 1943 by the Chinese Exclusion Act industrialists were using Chinese workers as a wedge to keep wages low and conditions poorso many labor unions pushed for the exclusion of the Chinese; throughout the latter 19th century and early 20th century, Chinese were forced into segregated areas called Chinatowns [Chinatown in San Francisco and Los Angeles are the two largest today]


Today: [census data] In 2006, the Chinese American population numbered approximately 3.6 million Immigration (stressors): Stressors associated with immigration lack of knowledge of host culture and language barriers challenges of learning new processes and customs separation from extended family isolation of elders in the home difficulty in establishing new family/ peer supports loss of social support from friendship network in home country economic uncertainties [for many] downward social mobility, barriers in accessing health services climatic and food changes discrimination and prejudice by mainstream population changing gender roles and marital conflict: Domestic violence exposure to violence, crime, and gangs in high-poverty neighborhood Mental health consequences: anxiety disorders and depression In part due to the legacy of anti-Chinese racism, racial segregation and, in part, as a survival strategy, many Chinese immigrants settled into Chinese enclaves and developed a constellation of ethnic institutions and self-help organizations. [these ethnic institutions and self-help organization] have mitigated many of the stressors that many Chinese immigrants have faced; among these ethnic institutions have been Language-Heritage schools, which were designed to preserve Chinese culture and mores among the children and youth of the community; my talk today will focus on the many positive functions these schools play today in Chinese enclaves in the United States.


ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AMONG CHINESE STUDENTS Although many other immigrant communities have established various ethnic institutions, such as churches and businesses, and self-help organizations, the children of many immigrant communities have experienced a high rate of academic failure and under-achievement. For example, in California, the children of Mexican, Vietnamese, and the Hmong immigrants, reveal high rates of academic failure and high drop-out rates. Much of this school failure has to do with poverty, but RACISM and racial segregation has also played a dominant role in the educational system of the UNITED STATES Indeed, the history of inferior schools for Mexican students and African Americans is well known in the United States---similar to the historical treatment of Koreans in Japan. It is only in 1964 that our Federal Government passed the Civil Rights Act, outlawing segregation in schools, public places, and in employment.

LATINOS Latinos have become the largest minority in the United States. Latino students represent 48% of the k-12 students population in CA o 8.12% Asian (non Filipino, non-Pacific Islander) In the year 2000, o 64% of Latino children were either immigrants themselves (first generation Americans) o or were US-born children-of-immigrants (second generation American). Less than 60 percent of all Hispanic children graduate from high school compared to 88 percent of non-Hispanic Whites. [Thus, for Latinos, thats about a 40% drop out rate Statewide, almost 60% of Asian high school graduates leave with the necessary courses for college eligibility (A-G requirements) while less than 22% of Latino students graduate as college eligible.


Latinos are more likely to live in poverty: o 22.8 percent Hispanic verses o 7.7 percent non-Hispanic Whites. Book: Manufacturing Hope & Despair: Harrison Heights: 48% of households registered living at or below the poverty line; Latino immigrant parents typically have 8 or fewer years of schooling and little command of English *** In contrast, we have the phenomenon of tremendous school success among Chinese immigrant families today---in spite of continued racism, segregation, and discrimination (including the glass ceiling) in many mainstream professions. STATS [Zhou & Kim] 12% of CA population (Asian American): 1/3rd of the undergraduates at UC Berkeley, UCLA, Irvine are Chinese Asians fare significantly better than Whites in school outcomes such as GPA. SOCIAL CAPITAL Much of the success of Chinese students in US schools, I believe, can be explained by what sociologists call social capital and in the next minutes I will explain how different forms of social capital in Chinese enclaves have afforded many many Chinese students a whole system of resources and support that many other immigrant communities have not been able to generate. at its best, a social capital framework reveals its significant capacity to guide us in elaborating, in holistic fashion, all of the elements entailed in the notion of a social support system oriented toward the complex processes of empowerment, privilege, and advantage. Social capital theory was given wide spread currency by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, [PP = Power Point] as a way to explain how the upper and middle classes are able to maintain and reproduce their dominance over the working classes.
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(3 times as likely)

We know for example that the middle and upper classes have different kinds of social networks than working-class communities. Middle and upper class people have what we can call cosmopolitan networks, a set of relationships [or connections] with a diverse constellation of other middle and upper-class people that translates into: the exchange of privileges, institutional resources, social support, and wealth, and. abundant opportunities for leisure, recreation, career mobility, and political empowerment. [RSS: Chinese word for connections] Other sociologists, such as Alejandro Portes & Min Zhou, do not employ a class-analytic conceptual framework, and have concentrated on how some immigrant enclaves are able to accumulate social capital through: o ethnic entrepreneurship, o the establishment of vibrant ethnic institutions, o and strong, cohesive community networks. Simply defined: SOCIAL CAPITAL: (1) the most important form of SC are those resources and opportunities that come to us through connections or relationships with resourceful individualsusually relationships based on trust and reciprocity INSTITUTIONAL AGENTS: often, the most important connections are with individuals we call institutional agents: those individuals, well positioned in the community and other institutionswho have the capacity and commitment to provide: valued resources and opportunities, and with connections to other key & resourceful individuals Other term for resources: INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT [handout]


PP: Institutional support is the actual, instrumental, provision of highlyvalued resources and opportunities, by institutional agents, as well as actions realized by these agents that set in motion complex dynamics that enable an individual to become empowered:
Empowerment: control over their lives and environment, [efficacy], able to discover new insights and abilities, [intellectual development] and able to contribute some of their knowledge, energy and talent to their community, .an increase in individuals ability to collaborate with others, to exercise interpersonal influence, to fill responsible roles, to make decisions and solve problems, & to organize and perform complex organizational tasks.

(2) The other form of social capital entails those integrative properties of certain communities institutions, and networks WHICH CAN BE HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE FOR A COMMUNITY: wide-spread trust, [ethnic] solidarity, enforceable norms, and reciprocity For a number of complex reasons [some of which I will address], many Chinese communities in the United States have been able to generate BOTH significant FORMS of social capital for their youth through the establishment of ethnic institutions, such as Language-Heritage Schools. CHINESE LANGUAGE-HERITAGE SCHOOLS As a 2004, 645 schools have been established across 47 states, enrolling approximately .100,000 students majority are non-denominational aim not only to maintain language and culture, but also to serve the educational needs of children of immigrant parents Activities: Chinese-language classes Classic Chinese painting and calligraphy Handicraft, origami, Chorus, band, Dancing, Abacus, Martial arts, Pin pong, tennis, and basketball.


ACADEMICS: These schools also place a great deal of importance on academics. In these schools, we often find: academic tutoring classes, such as math, English reading comprehension, English composition, and SAT subject test preparation. ---- > Some of these schools are merely cram schools,


[specialized schools that train their students to meet particular goals, most commonly to pass the entrance examinations of high schools or universities]

Most Language/Heritage Schools in the US have a broader set of objectives. *** What are the underlying or formal objectives of these Schools? [PP] to reinforce ethnic culture, heritage, and Chinese identity, to help US-born or raised children integrate into mainstream American society ---without losing their ethnic culture, heritage, and Chinese identity, to provide a wide range of tangible supplementary (rather than competing) services to help children do well in regular schools and ultimately gain admission into prestigious colleges. Chinese-English Bilingualism is the cultural ideal: Chinese youth see Chinese immigrant adults in positions of power and in their authority, assert the value of maintaining Chinese culture and language, while strongly acknowledging the necessity of learning English. Not the situation with students of Mexican-origin (many of those people of Mexican-origin-- in positions of power, have lost command of the Spanish language) o Rather then being immigrant, they are often U.S.-born, or they came to the U.S. as very young children.
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Institutional Agents, Informal Mentors and Role Models in the Lives of Urban Mexican-origin Adolescents (Stanton-Salazar & Spina, 2003) __. Social scientists continue to emphasize the critical importance of nonfamily adult agents in the social development, school achievement, and social mobility of adolescents particularly school personnel and adults in the neighborhood and community Foremost is the recognition that for adolescents to successfully meet developmental challenges in todays modern world, they require resourceful relationships and activities socially organized within a network of significant others and institutional agents distributed throughout: the extended family, school, neighborhood, and communitythat together can provide them with INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT As Ive shown in my published research on working-class Latino youth, o older siblings, o extended family members, o peers, o neighbors, and o key adults in the community ALL play a very important role in providing them with important forms of emotional and social supporto - often play a decisive role in guiding them away from risk factors and into an empowered adulthood. HOWEVER, for youth from working-class ethnic minority communities,gaining access to INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT often becomes problematic (precisely because adult family members may not have many years of schooling: THEREFORE: teachers and educated adults in the community become very vital sources of instrumental support and social capital o For many complex reasons, however, teachers and other school personnel may provide institutional support to only a small network of students.


Empowered Embeddedness from an Asset-based Perspective [PP] We know that in many White middle-class and suburban communities in the US, there is a social system of talented individuals embedded in interpersonal and informal networks, citizen associations, private businesses, government agencies, business associations, non-profit organizations, social service organizations, formal and informal athletic and recreational associations, and formal public institutions (e.g., schools, colleges, libraries, and parks). In each of these networks, businesses, associations, organizations, and institutions are a constellation of young and older adults who can be characterized as possessing gifts and talents, special skills, individual capacities, and various funds of knowledge. We know that in many privileged communities, YOUTH DEVELOPMENT is shared by agents that work in these associations and institutions. [VS]: We know, too, that in many working-class and poor immigrant communities, this system of support and social capital is simply missing or inadequate.


CHINESE ENCLAVES = SC / institutional support In spite of segregation from mainstream society, we see that in many suburban and metropolitan Chinese communities a mini-society made up of co-ethnic institutions that provides youth--as well as many adults--a similar system of support typically found in White upper middle-class suburban communities. Multiple and Simultaneous Functions of Language-Heritage Schools A. the research shows that Chinese Language-Heritage Schools may be providing a SUPPORT SYSTEM which is vitally necessary for all adolescents in society: resourceful relationships and activities socially organized within a network of significant others and institutional agents distributed throughout: the neighborhood, and community, and kinship network. For Chinese students, teachers and other school personnel in their public schools add to this constellation of institutional agents; o but what is important here is that Chinese students are not DEPENDENT upon the public schools for relations with high-status and caring institutional agentsas is the case for many other ethnic minority groups in the US. B. RSS: [heritage/language schools: institutional context where young people learn to effectively and comfortably engage Chinese institutional agents (people in their community with relatively high levels of human capital, cultural capital, . ] .[most importantly] these Schools are institutional sites where young people learn to access social capital---that is, they learn to access a whole range of institutional resources OR institutional support through relations of trust with adults well-positioned inside and outside of the Chinese enclave. [refer to table of institutional support] C. [College Preparation] The students in these Chinese Language Schools become aware of the higher educational systems standards and what to expect from the UC and CSU systems (i.e., in California).
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They realize that, besides getting good grades, they also need to show [in their application packet] that theyve been engaged in extracurricular activities, both academic and non-academic. D. Among the non-academic activities that is promoted in many Chinese-Heritage Schools is community service. Typical community service activities offered by Chinese students include free tutorial lessons in Chinese language at the local recreation center and helping the local community as translators for a minimal fee. E. ADVOCACY: the Chinese heritage language schools act as a representative on behalf of the students in their local American school districts. (p. 57) Indeed, Chinese Language-Heritage Schools may also be serving functions that are vital to the wider [adult] Chinese community: 1) serve as community centers that meet the social and cultural needs of immigrants while providing child-care and afterschool services for dualworker families. 2) For Chinese parents, needs are often met in these newly established ethnic organizations. Chinese schools become an important physical site where formally unrelated immigrants come to socialize and rebuild social tiesto build a new community of friends); 3) Suburban Chinese schools become an important cultural community for contemporary Chinese immigrants. Co-ethnic ties are rebuilt at local Chinese schools, where immigrants with varied levels of English proficiency and SES backgrounds come together. 4) [these schools] often serve as ties that generate social capital that facilitate the exchange of valuable information and connect immigrants to enclave institutions and in the mainstream society. 5) [RSS: (these schools) connect working-class immigrants to middle-class immigrants and access to social capital information, cultural capital, networks through these relationships with middle-class families.]



[PP] One parent: We hang out here and participate in a variety of things that we organize for ourselves, including dancing, fitness exercise, seminars on the stock market, family financial management, and childrens college prep. I kind of look forward to going to the Chinese school on Saturdays because that is the only time we can socialize with our own people in our native language. BUILDING COMMUNITY, MAINTAINING TRADITIONS During traditional Chinese holiday seasons, such as: Chinese New Year, Dragon Festival in the spring, and the mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Chinese schools participate in celebratory parades, evening shows, and other community events such as sports and choral or dance festivals. Chinese Language-Heritage Schoolsboth for-profit, and nonprofitalso serve as intermediate ground between the immigrant home and American school, helping immigrant parentsespecially those who do not speak English welllearn about and navigate the American educational system. Through these ethnic institutions, immigrant parents are indirectly but effectively connected to formal schools and become well informed about the factors crucial to their childrens educational success. social capital arising from participation in ethnic-language schools, immigrant churches, and other ethnic institutions is extremely valuable for those students and parents--in promoting academic achievement. CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: [these ethnic institutions] also foster a sense of civic duty in immigrants who are often criticized for their lack of civic participation. o [in these ethnic institutions]many parents volunteer their time for tasks ranging from decision-making, o to fund raising, o to serving as teaching assistants, event organizers, cooks, chauffeurs, security guards, and janitors.



WHY ARE CHINESE IMMIGRANT ENCLAVES ABLE TO PROVIDE A SYSTEM OF SUPPORT THAT OTHER IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES CAN NOT? (1) For some time Chinese immigrants have arrived in the United States with significant amounts of human, cultural, and sometimes, economic capital. (2) HUMAN CAPITAL: [2000 US Census Data] [today in the U.S.] about 65% of the foreign-born Chinese between the ages of 25 and 34 hold a college degree and 91 percent have a high school diploma. (3) As of 2000, foreign-born Chinese accounted for more than 70% of the ethnic Chinese population in the US..and 70% of these arrived in the US after 1980. So what we see are Chinese enclaves where a high degree of adult immigrants are relatively-recent arrivals and come with significant degrees of human capital and middle-class cultural capital. (4) With this human and cultural capital, we have seen a tremendous growth of Chinese businesses that employ other immigrant Chinese, ethnic organizations, and ethnic-language media, including television, radio, and newspapers. (5) With regard to Chinese entrepreneurship, many business people have started for-profit Language-Heritage Schools, or have contributed financially to them; (6) [RSS: Whereas in Mexican immigrant communities, many working immigrants send a good share of their earnings to support their families and villages in Mexico, Chinese immigrants are able to invest a greater proportion of their income in their own community, and on their children.] CULTURAL FACTORS 1. [in country of origin]: families invest a disproportionate amount of their resources in supplemental education in order to improve their childrens future life chances access to quality education is fiercely competitive (and restrictive);



LANGUAGE LOSS It is also interesting to note that the growth of ethnic-language schools in Chinese and in Korean immigrant communities has not led to significant or satisfactory improvement in ethnic-language proficiency in the second generation. (p. 19) More than 2/3rds of US-born Chinese and 78 percent of US-born Koreans speak only English at home, as opposed to about 28% of US-born Mexicans in the Los Angeles. By college, only a small fraction of Chinese young people can still read and write in Chinese [same with Korean youth]; .apparently, preserving the parental language is the ideal but not the most important outcome of language schools. NONETHELESS, these schools have played a tremendously important role in supplementing the public education of Chinese students, and in embedding in an environment where high academic achievement and college going is the norm.




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